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Scattered Shots: Hunter tier 11 set

Brian Wood

Every Monday and Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Mail your hunter questions to Frostheim.

Cataclysm is still several weeks away, and for most of us, raid content is yet more weeks beyond that. But it's never too soon to start drooling over new gear, and what's more deserving of our drool than our very first raid set of Cataclysm?

The hunter tier 11 Lightning-Charged set gets us off to a killer start in Cataclysm with very nice and useful set bonuses right out of the gate. Of course, the set looks like you're wearing a skinned murloc, but whether that's a bad thing or a moment of sublime joy depends on your personal taste and history with murlocs. Personally, I'm happy to be wearing their hollowed-out head. Glrgl-murfl this, ya bastards.

Join me after a cut for an in-depth look at the new hunter set, including exactly how all the set bonuses work and some preliminary numbers of the set bonus DPS contributions to each spec.

The DPS numbers

To put the set bonuses in perspective, I'm going to be giving a ballpark of the DPS contribution the set will make to each spec. Please understand that these are not hard numbers. We're still seeing a lot of changes being made in the beta, and there are still some hunter abilities that are bugged -- and others that we think are bugged but may be are working that way on purpose.

In addition, the DPS contribution from anything is going to depend not just on your exact talent build, but also on all the rest of your gear, the duration of the fight, etc. These numbers should, however, be good for comparison for the current state of the beta.

All testing, math and modeling was done with the starting raid gear you currently receive in the beta, with no reforging and with all raid buffs and debuffs. Thus this was not done with wholly optimized gear, and actual benefits should be a bit higher.

The hunter tier 11 set bonuses
  • Two-piece T11 set bonus Increases the critical strike chance of your Serpent Sting ability by 5 percent.
  • Four-piece T11 set bonus Your Focus Fire ability grants 1 percent additional haste per application of Frenzy, your Chimera Shot ability has a 10 percent chance to immediately refund half its focus cost, and your Black Arrow also deals instant damage to your target.
It's very nice to see such clearly good set bonuses right out of the gate in our first raid tier. I haven't gone through all the raid gear out there, but my hunch is that every hunter will want the four-piece set. Those bonuses look good enough to more than compensate for better itemization from nonset pieces. It is true, however, that the four-piece bonus is far worse for MM than for any other spec.

Some of these are a bit opaque, so let's look at them in a bit more detail.

Two-piece bonus

Every hunter spec is going to keep Serpent Sting up all the time on boss fights. A 5 percent crit bonus is clearly a very good thing. However, survival is going to get a lot more benefit out of this than the other specs. A lot more.

Survival will always have a harder-hitting Serpent Sting due to its mastery, which boosts all its elemental damage (basically all its magic damage, which for survival is everything except auto-shot). In addition to this, survival has the Toxicology talent that doubles the crit multiplier for their Serpent Sting crits. So while MM or BM should have Serpent Sting crit for 200 percent of base damage, survival will see those crit for 300 percent of base damage.

I should note that right now in the beta, Serpent Sting (and a couple of other DoTs) are only critting for 150 percent of base damage -- the spell crit multiplier, rather than the physical crit multiplier that hunters are supposed to use. We are pretty certain this is a bug that will get fixed soon, so I've done the math assuming we have the physical crit multiplier.

Approximate BM damage: 35 DPS
Approximate MM damage: 32 DPS
Approximate SV damage: 80 DPS

Four-piece beast mastery

The first four-piece bonus is for BM hunters. This effectively amounts to a 5 percent increase in hunter haste whenever Focus Fire is active. The uptime on Focus Fire is not 100 percent, but it's still pretty good, averaging around 80 percent uptime in my tests. And of course, that extra haste does all those wonderful and complicated haste things: boosts auto-shot fire rate, increases base focus regen, and shortens Cobra Shot cast time, thus increasing the focus regen per second of Focus Fire.

Without question, haste is the most complicated stat to calculate DPS gains for; not only that, but the benefit varies with the situation and tends to have certain plateaus rather than smooth scaling. You'd also expect haste to contribute more DPS in an ideal (mathematically modeled) world, since in reality, the benefits are always lower. So take this one with a larger grain of salt than other estimates.

Approximate damage: 202 DPS

Four-piece marksmanship

MM hunters get a 10 percent chance that their Chimera Shot will refund half its focus cost. Incidentally, this always refunds 25 focus on proc, even if you have Efficiency reducing the cost of your Chimera Shot. Essentially, what this means is that you'll get a proc every 10 Chimera Shots on average, which is every 100 seconds. That proc will give you enough focus to fire an Arcane Shot with a tiny bit left over.

Of all the specs, MM benefits the least from the four-piece bonus. Note, however, that it still benefits significantly, and the benefit may still larger than the itemization benefit of avoiding the set. But overall, the first raid set is not at all friendly to MM hunters.

Approximate damage: 87 DPS

Four-piece survival

The survival bonus only tells us that Black Arrow deals damage when it hits, not how much. After a lot of testing, it seems that the formula for the T11 survival damage is something very close to 1153 + RAP * .1717. Zeherah (of and I both independently came up with the same formula with separate testing (though she used an extra decimal place, the show-off), so I'm pretty confident in it.

Right now in the beta, the T11 survival effect is also dipping into the Toxicology talent, and thus critting for 300 percent damage. We're pretty certain this is a bug and will get fixed, so I'm doing the math assuming it does not benefit from Toxicology and also assuming that you have 3/3 Resourcefulness for a 24-second Black Arrow cooldown.

Approximate damage: 178 DPS

The first tier of hunter gear

And there you have it: our first tier of hunter gear. My hunch is that in practice, survival is going to net the largest gain from this set; the giant-looking haste bonus the four-piece gives to BM will likely not be as large in practice as it looks on paper. I also have a hunch that we may see a buff to the MM portion of the set, if for no other reason that MM hunters are going to scream and cry about their bonus being definitively much worse.

But keep in mind that no set benefits all specs equally, and just because a set benefits one spec more doesn't mean that is going to be the best spec. Your ability to play your spec is going to have a much bigger impact on your DPS than the set bonuses.

Historically, the first-tier set bonuses are kind of crummy, too. After all, they're going to be replaced and replaced again with bonuses that need to be bigger and cooler. This is why I'm very excited about the tier 11 set -- it's actually good. It doesn't have any really bad bonuses as we've seen in the past, ones that we completely ignored. Tier 11 gives us a good reason to use the set and to be excited about raid drops.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. Our Scattered Shots Resource Guide takes aim at everything from improving your heroic DPS, understanding the impact of skill vs. gear, and getting started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101.

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